If a Tree Falls, A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

If a Tree Falls

This is a film about one cell of the radical Earth Liberation Front, and their activities in the United States around the late 90s and early 2000s. The group was classed as eco-terrorists in the States, and were named as the number one domestic terror group in 2001.

The film focuses on one of their members, Daniel McGowan, who was arrested in 2005, and later convicted on terror charges. By focusing on his story the film-maker, Marshall Curry, is able to present the history of the movement and how the members became radicalised.

What comes across is that it was the lack of meaningful response to, and the amazingly violent suppression of, peaceful protest that led to certain people looking for quicker and better results.

The group itself only engaged in targeted property destruction, and no one was ever hurt by their actions (except economically). The actions mainly consisted of arson aimed at groups engaged in massive deforestation, or in animal slaughter (in this case overlapping with their sister organisation, the Animal Liberation Front).

The group is organised along anarchistic lines, but the group involved here seem to have ceased actions around 2001-2, and were only caught in 2005, when one of the members became convinced the police had enough to lock him down for life, and turned state witness. Because of the terrorism enhancement at the sentencing, Daniel spent from 2007-2013 in prison and in almost total isolation.

 

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